Sunday, August 25, 2013

Taking Yoga to New Heights

Yep, that's me at the very top in the orange about 55 feet up.  Crazy huh?  What's even more crazy is how very yoga like it was.
One of my students, Paul, is an climber extraordinaire.  He has climbed rocks, mountain, ice and is preparing for a climbing trip next year to Peru.
Every time he talks about climbing he says how much like yoga it is.  How you are in the present moment, how much the breath comes into play. How very meditative it is.  Well after many months of gentle prodding on his part, my husband and I found ourselves at Planet Rock in Pontiac this past Friday night.
It is a huge old building that I am not sure what its' previous life was, but it seems to be enjoying it's present reincarnation.  The staff was very welcoming when we came in (very important to me, first impressions and all). We were paired up with Russ who took us through an intro for newbie's.  It took about 40 minutes or so where we learned all about knots, safety, harnesses, safety,  braking with the ropes, safety, belaying (the non climber on the bottom with the rope), safety, checking our harnesses, checking our partners harnesses and did I say safety.  Truth be told, my head was spinning just a little. And then it literally let us loose from the beginners wall and said have fun. Holy crap! Just like that.
Well he did follow us to the big walls to make sure that we could handle the rope if our climber were to start to fall and made sure we knew how to "break" for them when we were belaying.  Because my hubby is a tad heavier than me (giggles), my harness was tethered to the floor to make sure I didn't become Peter Pan if hubby started to fall. There was always staff walking around to make sure everyone was OK and Paul came over occasionally from his climbing partners to help out and give pointers. 
And this is where the yoga kicked in.  After tying the appropriate knots and checking each other's harnesses up I went.  And up and up.  The higher I went the more I seemed to become unaware of the others around me.  My concentration went deeper in as I determined where my feet and hands went next.  I would pause occasionally to make sure that I was breathing deep and full.  Others apparently were climbing within inches of me and I really didn't notice. In a sense I was meditating as I climbed! I reached the top, looked down and realized how high I was and it felt great.  Propelling down was just as much fun....weeee!!!! I went up a few more times taking a different route and still loved it.
The other aspect of where the yoga kicked in was with my physical body.  Using the strength of my upper body to pull me up (thanks to all those down dogs and chatarunga's),  the strength of my legs to climb (compliments of warrior poses, crescent, balancing poses when I had one foot planted as I figured out where to put the next one) and the awareness of my core muscles (bandhas) to bring it all together and of course let's not forget the breath. 
This practice of yoga is used every where we go and whatever we do in our daily lives.  What ever "mountain's" you have to climb in your life bring your yoga with you and don't forget to breath.
P.S. Thanks Paul!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Good Morning, Namaste

Good morning, Namaste. That was the note that greeted me this morning when I came to the studio, it was written on the back an envelope and tucked under the outside mat. How sweet I thought. 

Then I glanced over to one of the two benches that we have in the front of the studio for gathering purposes (or to cool off after hot yoga) and there was a brown paper bag.  I looked inside and low and behold, not to my surprise, were two empty wine bottles and two plastic cups.

My reaction was bouncing between amused and sadness.  Amused because they chose (since there were two cups I assume it was "they") our studio bench to partake.  Amused because they didn't drink straight out of the bottle, they had some class.  Amused that they neatly had the corks back in the bottles, glasses stacked and put in the bag which was placed to the side so someone wouldn't trip over it.
Sadness because they felt that they needed to find their peace and contentment from a bottle in the dark hiding from others.  Sadness because they may not know that there are others ways to find your inner peace that lasts much longer that the buzz from wine and doesn't result in a hangover.  Sadness because what they are looking for is just on the other side of the door that they left the sweet note.
Sadness because all they have to do is make the first step and.......just breathe.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Just A Coincidence?

I just got back Saturday from a trip my family takes each year to Ludington MI.  It started out 20 years ago with one cottage and around 12 of us. This year it was four cottages and including all the coming and goings we had 42 in attendance. That's al lot of Italians!
A few of my mom's grandchildren in their 30's (including two of my kids) came up for the first time.  They were way too cool to come up when they were in their late teens and early 20's.  Did time make the rest of us more cool or them less judging?
Two of the grandkids were unable to make it due to work commitments and this is where the story gets interesting. Nathan lives in Roseville and Kimberly lives in Royal Oak and they ran into each other at a 7 Eleven at 15 & Crooks.  It's never happened before to them and most likely won't happen again. Crazy huh! 
It reminds me of the movie Casablanca when Humphrey Bogart's character Rick say to Ingrid Bergman's character Ilsa "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into min". Well, in all of the 7 Eleven's in all the get the idea.
We are all share the same energy, no matter who or what we are.  Was it the energy of the family coming together, often mentioning that we had wished that they could have made it, that drew them toward each other.  Was it their energy, knowing that they were the only ones not up north that brought them together. Either way there was some intense sharing of energy going on to make that happen.  Of course we will never know, this is one of those mysteries of the universe.
Every thought, action, and word that we put out there does make a difference. It's energy in one form or another.  It connects us in ways beyond our comprehension.  They create situations  that make the hair on our arms stand up.  Most of them we don't realize, they aren't as "in your face" as the 7 Eleven encounter, but they happen.
Moral of the story?  Really pay attention to the energy that you put out there because remember the law of Karma, what you put out comes back. 
So before you open your mouth, think a thought and take action, ask yourself, do you want this coming back to you at some time in the future.....and just breathe.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

$100 Worth of Karma

I went to get the mail the other day and there was an envelope addressed to Santosha Yoga without a return address.  I opened it up and out fell a crisp $100 bill along with a two page typed letter. It took me a second or two to process the money and I admit that I held it up to the light to make sure it was real.  It was.
The letter went on to explain the reason for the money.  It was an anonymous gift to Santohsa Yoga to use for 10 classes for students in need of yoga who maybe couldn't otherwise afford it.  The donor went on to explain that they came upon some unexpected money, that is was too difficult to truly explain but similar to finding money in a purse that you hadn't used in a while. We were to use it as we see fit, taking our time to decide who needs its.
The writer shared how yoga has changed their lives and they are ever so grateful for Santosha, the teachers and fellow students (as am I of course).  They was a lot more soul baring but you get the idea.
I re-read the letter several times first just to absorb the essence of it and then trying to play detective.  Hmmm, who could that be.  Must be a female because of the purse reference.  No, it could be male just trying to throw me off track.  By then I came to my senses and felt gratitude for this wonderful gift.
I have given out 4 classes so far of those I feel deserving at the time.  One is to a teenager who uses her babysitting money to take classes, another to a young gal who I know is struggling with school and bills. But as I give each one of them away, I tell them it has strings attached.  They must pay it forward.  They must preform a random act of kindness for someone else and it doesn't have to involve money. They have all assured me that they would.
Just think, that $100 worth of Karma will turn (not can) I repeat, will turn into so much more.  That's how is all starts.  That is the magic of yoga of the mat. Studies have shown
I was so excited by all this generosity that I had to remind just breathe.